Defense shines in Lady Demons’ doubleheader sweep of Nicholls

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Keely Dubois
(Photo: Evelyn Winger)

THIBODAUX – Northwestern State flashed plenty of leather and put up multiple crooked innings offensively on its way to a doubleheader sweep of Nicholls on Friday night to secure its first conference series win of the year.

The Lady Demons (16-12, 3-2) led from start to finish of game one after a three-run first inning, holding off a late Colonel rally to secure the 6-5 win in the opener. A first-inning triple play set the tone for the Demons in night cap as starting pitcher Kenzie Seely and the Demon defense shut down Nicholls for a 3-1 win to finish the day.

NSU 6, Nicholls 5

Two straight hits started the day for the Demons as Bailie Ragsdale and Taylor Williams each reached on infield singles. Sitting at second and third later in the inning, Makenzie Chaffin shot a laser to right center to bring them in to score on the first pitch she saw in the game. Keely Dubois followed with the fourth hit of the inning to give NSU an early 3-0 lead.

“When we were able to score today we were able to score multiple runs in the inning,” head coach Donald Pickett said. “Taylor, Bailie and Ashlyn (Walker) did a great job of getting on base today and presenting those opportunities.”

Of the four different innings in which it scored between the two games, NSU pushed across two or more in the frame three times, including some much-needed insurance runs that made the difference in the series opener.

Up 3-2 after the fifth inning, two straight singles, this time for Chaffin and Dubois, set the table to the next NSU run. A perfect sacrifice bunt from Tristin Court put them in scoring position for a Lexie Roos sacrifice fly to left that gave NSU the two-run edge going to the seventh.

The two critical insurance runs came after a leadoff double from Ragsdale, who scored on a throwing error on a sac bunt attempt by Williams. After a Laney Roos single and another sacrifice bunt, Chaffin drove in her third run of the game on an RBI groundout to first, that proved to be the eventual winning run.

Down to their final strike on two straight occasions, the Colonels had run-scoring hits that brought in three runs and put the tying run at second after a double to left.

NSU had just nine total strikeouts from its pitchers in the two games, but four of them, including the one that ended game one from Maggie Darr, came with the tying run on base.

“We didn’t get a lot of strikeouts today, but we got some very timely strikeouts from our pitching,” Pickett said.

NSU 3, Nicholls 1

The six runs and 12 hits were the story for the Demons from the first win of the day, but it was the defense that stole the show in the second.

Nicholls had some momentum offensively after the three-run seventh that was dowsed immediately by the Demon defense, and stonewalled the rest of the night.

After the first two Colonels reached base in the bottom of the first a popped up bunt was caught off the turf by Seely who then fired the ball Kat Marshall at first for the second who threw down to Ragsdale at second for the third out and a game-changing triple play.

It is the second triple play in two seasons for the Demon defense, who turned one last year against McNeese, that also involved pitcher Kenzie Seely. It was just the third triple play turned by any team in the country this season.

“That triple play boosted the momentum of the game,” Seely said. “We knew the top of their lineup was quick and could drop bunts down, so we were on our toes all night. That play definitely lit a spark behind me and helped me to stay on top the rest of the game.”

The lone scoring inning for NSU in the night cap came in the third on back-to-back doubles from Williams and Laney Roos. Williams’ double, her fourth hit of the day, put two runners in scoring position for Roos to drive them in on a screaming ball down the third-base line. Dubois picked up another RBI on a base hit to left for the second three-run inning of the day for the Demons, plenty of support for Seely and the defense.

The Colonels had one-out baserunners in each of the next three innings, but got nothing to show for it thanks to two different double plays to prevent any kind of rally.

A line drive to Ragsdale at second and easy toss to Marshall ended the fourth inning for the first twin killing. After a leadoff single in the fifth, a bouncer back to Seely in the circle started the next for two quick outs late in the game.

“The defense was solid today for sure,” Pickett said. “They’ve got some very competitive kids over there offensively and they were putting the ball in play against us, and we made some big plays today. Obviously, the double plays and the triple play takes them out of innings, but Taylor and Nani (Winger) made some hugely important plays for us today in the outfield as well.”

Seely cruised through five innings with little effort, throwing just 50 pitches to make through five full innings of the game. She got one of her two strikeouts in the game with runners on second and third with two outs in the sixth, freezing the batter to send the game to the final inning.

A single and a double in the seventh prevented Seely’s first shutout of the season, but a fly ball to deep center that was chased down by Winger secured the win and the doubleheader sweep for the Demons.

“I am so proud of every person on this team,” Seely said. “Everyone played a key role in both wins today. The defense was awesome and kept us in the game. Being a contact pitcher, it is all about trusting your pitches and your defense and they had my back every step of the way.”

The Demons will go for their first conference sweep of the season on Saturday starting at 12 p.m.

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